Pittsburgh (5-0) vs. Stanford (5-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 26, 9:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Barclays Center (18,103) -- Brooklyn, New York. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Pitt 4-0, Stanford 3-1. Away Record: Pitt 0-0, Stanford 1-0. Neutral Record: Pitt 1-0, Stanford 1-0. Conference Record: Pitt 0-0, Stanford 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: For the first time ever, the Stanford Cardinal and Pittsburgh Panthers will square off as they meet in the championship game of the 2013 Legends Classic.
The Panthers have yet to suffer a setback on the young season with five straight wins out of the gate. The most recent victory, and the one that pushed them to this title bout, was a 76-53 trampling of Stanford on Monday night. Pittsburgh hosted a regional warm-up for the event last week and earned easy wins over Howard (84-52) and Lehigh (77-58).
Stanford made easy work of its first two opponents in the Classic. The Cardinal dispatched with Texas Southern, 97-71, last Thursday, and then claimed an 86-76 victory over Houston in the event's semifinals on Monday night. Stanford is sporting a 5-1 record on the season and has won three straight games.
The contest was just about in hand for Pittsburgh at halftime against Texas Tech. The Panthers held the Red Raiders to only six field goals in the first half, and took a 41-18 lead into the break. After halftime the Panthers knocked down 48.1 percent of their shots to coast to victory. Pitt forced 17 turnovers in the win.
Lamar Patterson continued to carry the Panthers on offense on Monday, as he netted a game-high 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Patterson (15.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg) is the type of versatile scoring forward most teams covet as he can finish around the basket as well as step back and hit shots from 3-point range. Talib Zanna (12.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is the only other double-digit scorer on the team, although Cameron Wright (9.4 ppg) and Durand Johnson (9.8 ppg) should not be ignored. Pittsburgh has been abusing foes at the defensive end this year, owning a +25.6 scoring margin by holding teams to 54.4 points per game on 37.2 percent shooting from the field.
After a dreary shooting effort in the first half, Stanford came alive after intermission to secure its place in the championship round. The Cardinal connected on 66.7 percent of their shots in the second half against Houston to make up for a 19-9 deficit in points off turnovers.
There is plenty of balance between the front and backcourts for the Cardinal, as evidenced on Monday when five different players scored in double figures. The chief scoring threat most nights is Chasson Randle (19.5 ppg), but he took more of a complementary role on Monday by netting only eight points. Dwight Powell (15.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg) is a handful in the frontcourt and finished with 20 points on Monday, while his battery mate on the interior, Josh Huestis (11.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg) racked up 13 points to match 13 rebounds. Anthony Brown (16.2 ppg) is another valuable scorer for the Cardinal as he partners with Randle out on the perimeter. Brown is the best long-range shooter for the Cardinal, as he has knocked down 56 percent of his shots from 3-point distance.
The balance that both of these teams possess will make for a hard-fought battle. Pitt is a bit more familiar with playing under the bright lights, and that experience could prove valuable.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Pittsburgh 67, Stanford 64
11/26 10:35:14 ET